Frank McGinty author and teacher
And here's what was said by members of the Teenage Readers Panel (selected from all over the UK):
Reviewer: Alex Lainsbury
Another Life is an engrossing book about a problem that can be very real for some people. Frank McGinty’s writing makes the story very life-like, and he keeps you guessing until the end, where there is a surprising twist to the tale. I really like this book.
Reviewer: Lizzie Naylor
Reviewer: Natalie Reeves
Overall the book was great and whoever can make you feel so many different emotions in just one book deserves a medal. I will look out for more of Frank McGinty’s books . . .I hope to see more of his work as this book was superb!
Here’s how ‘Another Life’ begins:
Saturday morning! The blue sky and the sunlight that filtered through her bedroom window indicated to Jane that the heat wave was holding. She got out of bed, opened thewindow wide, and breathed in the fresh morning air. Today she had a reason to feel good. Today was her sixteenth birthday.
She took a long, leisurely shower, and let her mind drift back to past birthdays. Family birthdays were different when her mother was alive. Just like Christmas, only on birthdays it was Christmas for one. Presents were wrapped and left overnight on the settee, so that she or her brother, Barry, would see them first thing in the morning. Later in the day there would be a special meal, with all kinds of treats and always a cake with just the right number of candles.
Jane sighed contentedly as she dried her hair. She laughed to herself when she remembered that on her birthdays she usually ended up feeling sick! During the day she’d tuck into the birthday chocolates, and at dinner there would be her favourite dessert, mint Vienetta. Afterwards she would go with the family and a few chosen friends to the cinema or the bowling alley or whatever.Then she had to oblige her parents by stuffing her face with a huge wedge of birthday cake. All for a good cause, of course!
As she slipped into her top and shorts, Jane’s feeling of contentment suddenly turned to rage as the manner of her Mum’s death came flooding back to her. She quickly turned her thoughts back to birthdays, but her anger didn’t pass. Her dad and Barry had forgotten her last two birthdays. After all she had done for them. Not only was she taken for granted, she was completely forgotten too! But she had high hopes for this birthday. She’d dropped hints for weeks so that they could get their act together.
She pulled on her sandals and tiptoed quietly downstairs. She was always the first up, and she didn’t like to disturb the others. When she opened the living room door her heart sank.
There wasn’t a present in sight, but it was more than that - it was the state of the place. The coffee table was covered with empty beer cans. Cigarette ends had spilled over the single ashtray and littered the carpet, like spent cartridges from a machine gun. A bottle of cheap fortified wine had toppled next to one of the chairs and the stale stench from the damp patch was nauseating. The forlorn remnants of a Chinese takeaway were scattered everywhere, making their own contribution to the foul atmosphere.
Dad brought home some of his cronies from the pub and they had a night of it, she thought. Again.
She knew that if she didn’t clear up the mess it would lie there festering away. If only Mum could see this! she said to herself.
I’m glad I slept through it all, Jane thought as she began clearing up. She had gone to bed early the night before, and as usual had slept soundly. The only time she had when she didn’t think about anything was when she was sleeping.
At 8:35 on Monday morning the Underground Station at Hillhead in the north side of the city was disgorging its contents into Byres Road. It was the usual mixture of university students, office workers, and school kids, in no less than three different uniforms. Even at this hour the sun was bathing the area in warmth.
A group of five students, wearing the distinctive blue, white and grey of Hillside High School, met outside the station, then, without bothering to walk the twelve metres or so to the pedestrian crossing, picked their way across the busy two-lane road. As usual they simply ignored the hoots of angry motorists.
"Let’s stop at Greggs, I’m starving," said Victoria, a pleasant faced, rather plump girl in her Fourth Year.
"You’re always starving," said Nick, one of the two boys in the group.
"It’s this heat," protested Victoria, although even she couldn’t see any logic in her reply. "What about you, Mel - fancy anything? My treat."
"Um . . . yeah, thanks. I’ll have a chocolate doughnut."
"Anyone else?" asked Victoria.
The rest shook their heads. Nick said, "I’ll get my own." Victoria was the expansive, gregarious type, always looking after everyone - ‘Mother Earth’ as Raj called her - and Nick didn’t like to take advantage of her.
They left the bakery and made their way up Ruthven Street to the school at the top of the hill. As usual they took their time passing Athole Gardens, a compact yet spacious public park in the centre of the avenue, which swept up and around in a circle.
"Uh-oh, don’t look now, folks, but Mel’s in one of her dwams," said Nick, in a stage whisper that was intentionally too loud to be ignored.
"Over to you, Victoria," said Julie.
"Yeah," said Raj, "get your crystals in gear!"
Mel, suddenly pale, had stopped and was gazing at the Gardens with a faraway look on her face.
"Take it easy, Mel," said Victoria gently. "Now. Tell me. What exactly is it you’re seeing? Mel! Mel!"
Mel was aware that she was still next to Athole Gardens, but the voices of her friends seemed strangely distant. Gradually her friends themselves seemed distant, and frozen in time. Some strange force was pulling Mel deep into her own mind, away from the outside world. She was powerless to resist; she was drawn deeper and deeper, until it was as if she had become a disembodied spirit who was looking in on a new life that was opening out in front of her.
The front door burst open as though a heavy goods van from the nearby motorway had somehow lost its way and charged up the path into Jane’s house. Jane was roused from a dream of two weeks spent in the Maldives, which the presenter of the holiday programme flickering in the corner seemed to think was well within everyone’s budget. She instinctively knew what had caused the commotion.
"Jane!" called a distressed female voice. "We need you. Quick!"
In the hallway, Jane was confronted by her brother, who staggered in, supported on the arms of his girlfriend, Sara. Barry looked even more pale and drawn than usual. His long, slicked-back, dark hair was dripping with blood and his bruised right ear was at least twice its normal size. His earlobe was ripped, and the gold earring he always wore was now painfully embedded in the mess. His grey Kappa T- shirt was also drenched in blood. Some of the blood had made its way on to Sara’s faded denim jacket. Jane stared for a moment, contemplating her next move.
(End of extract)
What’s happening to Mel? Victoria thinks her crystals will provide the answer, but will they? And how is poor Jane going to cope with her dad and her brother?